The mile run.

I am not a runner.

So it was weird when before 5 on a summer morning, I put on a pair of running shoes. For a month, I had been working out from 5:30 to 6:30 weekday mornings with a trainer named Frank and the others who had signed up for his boot camp.

We met in a parking lot, empty except for our own cars, outside the clubhouse in a local subdivision. We stretched. We squatted, curled and pressed. That morning, the last day of camp, we each would run a timed mile to compare to the one we ran the first week of camp.

We stood side by side in a line, under the black sky. Frank fiddled with the stopwatch. He said go. We ran. He had already measured it: If we ran from where we stood in line to a gated neighborhood north of us and back, we would run a mile.

On the street, I ran, jogged, walked. Ran, jogged, walked. Over and over, slower than most but faster than some, in the Florida heat and through the thick humidity. I got to the gate. My lungs hurt. I turned around, and I ran, jogged, walked. Ran, jogged, walked.

By the time I could see the parking lot again, the black sky had turned to royal blue. The sun had started to rise. I jogged. My lungs pushed air out and took it in, hard. I turned into the lot. I could see Frank. So I sprinted. My feet and my lungs pounded with rhythm.

Pound, pound, in.

Pound, pound, out.


Pound, pound, in.

Pound, pound, out.


Toward our parked cars.


Past our parked cars.



I collapsed onto the pavement, on purpose. My chest rose high and fell deep, air in and out (but not enough). Frank read my results:

11 minutes.

I began to cry.

“Are you ok?”

I nodded yes. And in tears, I did the math.

I had finished the mile run four minutes faster than my first one.

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This post is part of a series called “True Story.” Click here to read other posts in the series.

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